Buy A Marvel Digital Comic & Get A $5 Coupon For Your Local Comic Store!

Yesterday Marvel Entertainment sent out a notice that fans would get a $5 coupon to use in comic stores if they purchased a digital comic from Marvel today, Saturday, January 7th between 12am and 12pm Est. The graphic for the notice can be seen below.

Johanna Draper Carlson expounded on Marvel's notice calling it a "bribe" to get digital readers into comic stores:

Marvel today officially announced a coupon offer for digital comic customers. From the press release:

Kick off the New Year by discovering the world of the Marvel Comics app and receiving a $5.00 coupon for your local comic store! That's right, if you purchase* a comic on the Marvel Comics app on January 7th, between 12:01am EST and 11:59pm EST, you will be e-mailed a coupon (on January 8th)** valued at five dollars to be used for any Marvel comics purchase at your local comic store. Please note that only one coupon is available per user during this limited-time offer and may only be redeemed at select comic shops.***

Wow, THREE footnotes for the offer.

The first clarifies that you have to be logged in with a Marvel account, which means registration through "the ';My Comics' section of the Marvel Comics app or at". (I presume this is different from a standard comiXology account, although I don't know how or why.) The second states that the coupon expires on February 6, so it's only good for a month, which seems a reasonable amount of time.

The third is the one that trips me up. How do I know that any shops in my town are participating? Given how many retailers are justifiably angry about being forced to advertise digital to their customers, I'm not sure how many have signed on for this effort. The announcement states: "***Fans: The e-mail containing your coupon will also include a link to help you find the closest qualifying store(s)", so you don't know if you'll be able to easily use the offer without committing to it.

Also interesting: the purchase date is a Saturday. I'd be curious to know if there are any known digital patterns, in terms of when people buy comics online. Is that a low-purchase day, historically, to reduce the risk of this offer, or a high one, to try and get the most customers possible into stores?

While I admire any attempt to experiment, especially if it involves giving people free money, this type of offer ignores the percentage of customers who like one format or the other and want to keep getting what they like. A number of digital readers don't want print — they don't want to lug it around or store it. Trying to get them into stores doesn't address their needs. Instead, it's a panacea for retailers upset at a publisher who seems to beundercutting them by giving away digital copies of its Ultimates and Season One lines. The goal is to "convert" them to reading comics the "right" (old-fashioned) way. This quote tells the story:

"As we continue to grow the digital comics world, we want to make sure it's always to the benefit of the medium and our comic shop retail partners," said Peter Phillips, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Marvel Digital Media Group. "This coupon is a great way for us to let more of our fans know about their local comic store and incentivize them to make the trip there. At the end of the day, our goals in the print and digital mediums are the same—bring more fans to comics."

Here's the notice:

So what do you think? Is this a bribe, just a good offer, or a cheap promotional tactic? Leave your comments below.

Sources: Marvel Entertainment, Comics Worth Reading

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